Promise House Provides Free Market for Otterbein Students’ Basic Needs

Posted Feb 18, 2022

By Bridget Oder ’23 

For some students, the costs of basic daily needs like food and hygiene products can be a hurdle to completing their education. The Promise House at Otterbein was opened in 2016 to break down those barriers to student success.  

The Promise House is a student-led free food market, community space, and resource center where all Otterbein University students can shop for a variety of food items, school supplies, personal hygiene products, and more.  

The Promise House is led by both paid student staff and volunteers and operates under Otterbein’s Center for Community Engagement. Its leadership team, the Promise House Coordinators, keeps the doors open to serve their peers as well as manage specific roles within Promise House, such as donor relations, marketing, or pantry operations.  

“Our signature service is our free market, where students can shop for a variety of food items, school supplies, and personal hygiene products. We also have a café where students can come in to grab a free cup of coffee or tea, hang out with friends, and stock up some Panera bread or pastries from Fox in the Snow Café,” said Sydney Quynn, an AmeriCorp Vista with the Promise House.  

In addition, the Promise House hosts twice-weekly pop-up events where they hand out fun items like fresh produce in the fall and hot chocolate in the winter. They also provide resources such as free meal card swipes to the dining hall at the end of the semester, mini grants for students experiencing financial emergencies, and connections to additional community resources.  

The work that the people do at the Promise House is made possible because the generosity of their donors. Alumni, community members, Otterbein offices, and local organizations make individual donations to the campus resource pantry.  

The Promise House and the Otterbein Community Garden also operate a social enterprise selling student-made crafts at the Westerville Farmers Market and on-campus pop-up events to raise money for the Promise House.  

“I want to emphasize that the Promise House exists for ALL Otterbein students. We have no eligibility requirements, which means that any Otterbein student can use our services, and we want to encourage all students to take advantage of our resources,” Quynn said. 

The Promise House is also a hub for volunteerism for students who are looking for a way to get involved, meet new people, and give back to their community.  

The Promise House is located at 90 W. Home St. on the ground floor of the Commons Apartment complex. 

For more information, follow the Promise House on Instagram, email, or visit